George Mitchell Eckel III, widely known to friends and family as “Mitch”, died in Lincoln, Massachusetts, on July 23, 2023, of complications caused by lymphoma. He was 83.
A U.S. Air Force Veteran, and graduate of Harvard Law School, Mitch was a devoted, longtime citizen of Concord, Massachusetts. He and his wife Susan lived for four decades in Concord, where he served on town boards and was an active volunteer for the Trinitarian Congregational Church, Boy Scout Troop 132, and other civic organizations.
Mitch was born on July 14, 1940, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to George Mitchell Eckel, Jr., and Margaret Grace Anna Everhart. He lived his earliest years in Hot Springs, along with his parents and his younger sister, Charlotte Ann.
Mitch and his family later moved to North Little Rock, Arkansas, where he attended North Little Rock High School and played football and other sports. In 1953, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scout Troop 29, becoming one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in Arkansas history.
After graduation from high school in 1958, Mitch enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. His class was the first full Air Force Academy class to spend its entire four years at the Colorado Springs campus, and they were later immortalized as the “Red Tag Bastards”, a designation its alumni carried with pride. He received a copy of his diploma from then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Mitch underwent pilot training – learning to fly C-130 cargo planes and B-47 bombers – in Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kansas.
He was married to Susan Heywood Hall, of Riverside, Connecticut, on August 28, 1965.
Mitch flew C-130s in South and North Vietnam, and he was honorably discharged in July 1969.
In September 1970, he enrolled at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first Air Force Academy graduate to enroll at the Law School. He graduated in 1973 with a Juris Doctor. He earned a Master of Law in taxation from Boston University in 1974.
He worked for law firms in Manchester, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts, including as a partner at Grabill & Ley, before setting out to establish an independent practice that later became Eckel, Hoag & O’Connor, in Acton, Massachusetts.
For many years, Mitch and Susan and their three sons, George Mitchell Eckel IV, (Mike), Richard Hall and Peter Heywood, lived in Concord, Massachusetts, where Mitch was an active member of the Trinitarian Congregational Church, serving many years as church treasurer. He was also a dedicated Troop Committee Chairman for Boy Scout Troop 132, where his sons were Boy Scouts.
Mitch retired from his law practice in 2018, and he and Susan moved to Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Mitch is survived by his wife of 58 years, Susan; three sons, Mike (Jenn), of Prague, Czech Republic; Richard (Marcy), of Stow, Massachusetts; and Peter (Isabelle) of West Roxbury, Massachusetts; and their families, including eight grandchildren: Lily, Sydney, Scarlett, Daphne, Henry, Louise, Charles, and Grace; along with his sister Charlotte Ann (Eckel) Edwards of Nashville, Tennessee, and her family.
Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Mitch for his memorial service on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. in the Trinitarian Congregational Church, 54 Walden Street, Concord, Massachusetts.
Concord’s Town Flag will fly at half-staff to honor Mitch’s faithful service in the United States Air Force.
Donations in his memory may be made to:
Trinitarian Congregational Church
54 Walden Street
Concord, MA 01742
Air Force Academy Foundation of the Association of Graduates
3116 Academy Drive USAF
Academy, CO 80840